The JR hospital's trauma unit is to reopen later this year after a four-year closure because of 'Grenfell' cladding concerns

The JR hospital's trauma unit is to reopen later this year after a four-year closure because of concerns over fire risks because of its 'Grenfell' cladding.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 23rd August 2021, 10:50 am
Updated Monday, 23rd August 2021, 10:54 am
A computer-generated image of the refurbished trauma unit at the JR Hospital, Oxford
A computer-generated image of the refurbished trauma unit at the JR Hospital, Oxford

The trauma building was closed in 2017 when concerns were raised over cladding on the building, similar to that believed to have exacerbated the disastrous fire at the Grenfell Tower in London which killed at least 80 people.

The closure affected 52 trauma beds and at the time, managers believed the necessary work would only take 12 months to carry out. Patients were moved into other wards elsewhere on the campus but the dislocation of the teams was not ideal.

The reconfigured trauma unit has been modified to allow patients, confined to their beds, to be moved into an adjoining building after fears were voiced that patients might be trapped in the event of a fire.

Hospital chiefs say that after a rigorous programme of safety works - including removal and replacement of the cladding - the building will be reopened to inpatients in November.

In a press statement the Oxford University Hospitals Trust said: "All trauma services will move back into the Trauma Building at the John Radcliffe Hospital by the end of 2021, in time for winter pressures. Trauma inpatients moved out of the building following a structural review by the Fire Service in 2017.

"Over the past few months, there has been a rigorous programme of safety works, including the removal and replacement of cladding and now a refurbishment of the building is underway.

"Outpatients, who were temporarily relocated to the main John Radcliffe building during recent work this year, are due to return to the Trauma Building in September, with inpatients returning in November (subject to project completion)."

The £4.6m project – including the removal and replacement of the cladding - is funded by a combination of Trust budget and NHSE/I funds.

The most significant factor for returning inpatients to the upper floors has been the joining of the Trauma Building with the new Critical Care Building. This means that, in the event of a fire, patients can be moved away in their beds into the Critical Care Building.

The Trauma Building will have a total of 48 beds, complete with a patient gym, offices, stores and a staff welfare floor.

Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is really wonderful news for both our patients and our staff.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their patience - this has been a significant overhaul for our services and we are all incredibly pleased that the trauma services will soon be under one roof. It will mean an improved experience for our patients, and our staff will be able to care for them in a purpose-built environment.

"The trauma staff are looking forward to working all together in one location again as they will be able to confer more easily and rebuild the tight teamwork and support that they have worked hard to sustain while they were in two locations.

“This, paired with the adjacent new Critical Care Building, allows us to provide the best compassionate care for our patients in the right place, at the right time.”

The Critical Care Building is due to open to High Dependency and Intensive Care patients in late autumn 2021.

* Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust commissioned its report on the trauma building after external cladding was thought to have contributed to the spread of the fire which led to the deaths of at least 80 people at Grenfell Tower.